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Portables Portables (Apple) Upgrades Apple Hardware

Early Review of 11" Macbook Air 348

adeelarshad82 writes "Apple's latest entry into the ultraportable space is no netbook, even though it's the closest the company has come to making one. Its chassis is, amazingly, even thinner than the original MacBook Air, with a screen two sizes smaller. Moreover, the MacBook Air's 11.6-inch widescreen is not the only first for Apple; so is its 1,366-by-768 resolution. Although Apple found a way to squeeze in two USB ports and a speedy solid-state drive (SSD), the MacBook Air (11-inch) is not nearly as feature-packed or as fast as the rest of the MacBook family, primarily because its 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 Ultra-Low Voltage (ULV) processor is running on previous-generation Intel technology. Still, it will give the latest batch of Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) laptops a run for their money."
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Early Review of 11" Macbook Air

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  • Why it has Core 2's (Score:5, Informative)

    by AdmiralXyz ( 1378985 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:23PM (#33974948)
    In case you're interested, Ars has a good piece [arstechnica.com] on why Apple chose the Core 2 instead of an i-series chip. Basically it boils down to

    a) Graphics performance. The integrated graphics on the i-series can't touch Nvidia's 320M, and Nvidia hasn't come out an equivalent for Arrandale yet.

    b) Arrandale needs a separate memory controller, and there's no room for it on the MBA's tiny motherboard.

    Good points, though I still want to see head-to-head performance numbers to see if the choice was a good one.
  • Re:I dunno man (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rynor ( 1277690 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:45PM (#33975288)
    Toshiba does this, I got one with my NB-100 netbook without a cd/dvd drive.
  • by RapmasterT ( 787426 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:56PM (#33975438)

    But netbooks got their names because they can basically only surf the web, unlike this one.

    I've been using a netbook as my primary work computing device since last March. People tend to snub netbooks because they're "underpowered", without considering what they're underpowered to actually do.

    You're not going to play high end games on it, but I use autocad, do DVD transcoding, email, excel...everything I need to do for my job works just fine. This macbook has better specs in some areas, but my netbook blows the doors off of it in practicality, and the macbook isn't going to get my work done any more efficiently than the netbook that cost 1/3 as much.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:00PM (#33975500)
    because Microsoft and Intel have _defined_ what their manufacturers can call a Netbook and the press follow that. It used to be it could only have 1 CPU, less than 10.1" screen, and not more than 1GB of RAM. I think Microsoft and Intel allow 2 cores now but I think the screen size and RAM are still limited at their previous sizes.

    If any of you are old enough to recall when the laptop displays hit 12" it was the beginning of really usable portable computers because the keyboard could be full size. IBM had even gone out and created a laptop before then which had a cool keyboard( butterfly? ) which slide out in both directions when you opened the top so that it provided a full keyboard.

    The reason Microsoft and Intel define what a netbook is is because they want to keep charging top dollar for full laptop software and hardware(CPUs). If they don't define where the line is, someone is going to create a cheap laptop and blow away years of price defining contracts and licensing deals.

    If you don't believe me, just find a site which lists available netbooks. they all have very similar specs for CPU, screen size and shipped memory.

  • Re:Netbook Pro (Score:2, Informative)

    by viking099 ( 70446 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:05PM (#33976796)

    If I'm doing a full backup/data dump of gigs at a time, it's a bit faster to just plug in and go than wait for everything to make it over wifi.

  • by DurendalMac ( 736637 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:30PM (#33977254)
    Hahahahahahahaha!!! You're kidding, right? That C2D in the Air may not be much, but it will destroy any Atom out there without breaking a sweat.
  • by BlackSnake112 ( 912158 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:51PM (#33977616)

    +5 funny. Only thing is I bet most of the /. crowd is too young to know the song.

  • Re:An Ad? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wovel ( 964431 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @03:02PM (#33977772) Homepage

    Your Aspire One with no SSD, smaller screen, lower resolution, twice the thickness, 6 ounces more weight..

    It does include a web cam (Now called face time camera). I can not find your reference to room for in any of the specs..

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @03:28PM (#33978164) Homepage Journal

    You run Autocad on a netbook?
    You must only do 2D and must only use it to look at floorplans!
    I used SoildWorks 2005 and had to upgrade my video card and RAM way past what a netbook can be expanded to do even light 3d work.
    That and the resolution and size of the screen would make me question your statement. If you are doing anything real with Autocad Yes going to C2D and an Nvidia gpu will make you a lot more productive. And unless you work for free it will pay for it's self in a short amount of time
    Frankly You would be better off with any number of non netbook Wintel machines for that matter over a netbook for doing Autocad.
    Yea sorry but you lost me with the Autocad statement.
    Using Excel and email sure no problem. DVD transcoding... Not for work and you must have a lot of free time...

  • Re:An Ad? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ohcrapitssteve ( 1185821 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @03:51PM (#33978510) Homepage
    Not defending either machine, just straightening your facts.

    The Acer is more extensible, with user-replaceable battery, savvy-user-replaceable hard drive and RAM (though the RAM is a total pain to get to, not just a door on the back, everything has to come out to get at it) and the possibility for a lot more storage as laptop hard drives get bigger. If it gets stolen, and your data on it is backed up and protected from malcontents, it's $300 and not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.

    The Macbook is much thinner, a little lighter, significantly more powerful with it's 64-bit dual core processor, has reportedly better battery life (Apple's reporting has been pretty close to reality lately) and a full-sized keyboard and almost full-sized multi-touch trackpad (compared to the postage stamp Acer calls a trackpad,) slightly larger screen with quite a bit higher resolution, higher resolution webcam, much faster but more limited storage, can be configured with 4gb RAM (must be done at config time, part of the logic board) and for those that care, Apple's customer service and reliability are rated much higher (per the keynote video.)

    Between the two? I'm probably going with the Macbook Air. I don't mind the premium for what I think will be better usability. I'm a larger gentleman with larger hands, and I haven't found a netbook keyboard and/or trackpad yet I want to use for more than a few minutes at a time... too small, slash key and period/comma keys are half size, etc. While the machines are similar in size, the MBAir has it beaten quite soundly in specs. It's really easy to say "haha, Jobs-o made a netbook after putting them down..." but he really didn't. This is no netbook. I had a netbook for two months, gave it to my mother, and I'll never own one again.
  • Re:An Ad? (Score:3, Informative)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @03:57PM (#33978606)

    check out the dell m101z, for 500 bucks you have an 11,6 screen, a decent size hdd (which you can replace with an ssd if you want) and an AMD dual core CULV CPU

    Granted, the cpu probably is slightly lower then the intel CULV in this new apple, but there is no way the apple is twice as good in terms of specs

    Not meaning to argue, just ask a question... What kind of display is in the Dell? I don't believe Apple uses the low-end TN panels that are found in most netbooks.

    A friend of mine was bragging about his new HP 27" display (not on a netbook obviously!) as "just as good as the Apple Cinema Displays, but cost hundreds less", but you get a few degrees off-center from his monitor and the color goes all wonky. Display quality does make a difference (FWIW I've got my Mac laptop plugged into a very good quality Dell monitor right now).

  • Re:An Ad? (Score:4, Informative)

    by extra88 ( 1003 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @04:43PM (#33979320)
    It may have a faster clock speed than the 11" MacBook Air but it does *not* have a faster processor. Your Aspire One has an Atom processor while the 11" Air has a Core 2 Duo processor, which does more, clock for clock. Looking at the GeekBench Results Browser [geekbench.ca], It looks like the 11" Air scores are at least double what your Aspire One's score would be.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @04:50PM (#33979428)

    I mean, 1.4GHz? The used laptop I sold for $200 last week had a 1.6GHz dual core.

    Yes, 1.4 GHz. Dual-core. That's how Apple gets 5 hours+ runtime from the dinky 35 watt-hour battery in the 11.6" MacBook Air: they use Intel's CULV CPUs, which have much lower power consumption than normal at the cost of being limited to fairly low clock rates. (The "ULV" stands for ultra-low voltage, which means that essentially it's a very undervolted and underclocked version.)

    That 35 Wh battery is probably all that's possible to squeeze in. The machine's average thickness is probably less than 0.5". Your Asus appears to have a 58 Wh battery, in a much much thicker case.

    I'm not sure why you expected Apple to break the laws of physics. (Or, alternately, make a product compromised in areas Apple doesn't like to compromise, such as battery life.)

  • by starless ( 60879 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @05:13PM (#33979742)

    I have a first generation MacBook Air. Although it's generally pretty good, if I try to watch video for any length of time (netflix or skype video) it always overheats, turns off one of the cores, and then becomes unusable for video (one core on its own can't keep up). If the new Airs are better at video I'd love to get one to replace mine!

  • by damnbunni ( 1215350 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @07:11PM (#33981072) Journal

    SSDs _are_ flash drives.

    They're considerably faster than the ones you plug into a USB port, but they're basically the same thing.

  • Re:An Ad? (Score:2, Informative)

    by DarkXale ( 1771414 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @09:22PM (#33981996)
    Apples Macbook Pro line uses TN based panels - the air is no different, unless they changed it for this model and forgot to mention it.

    As for the desktop monitor you mentioned, just sounds like the usual IPS vs. TN. HP does have their own IPS monitors, in fact they actually are one of the very few companies that actually make the panels (And supply them to e.g. Dell).

  • Re:Oops... (Score:3, Informative)

    by arctanx ( 1187415 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @03:31AM (#33983426)

    Why is this modded informative? Ugh. The speed of a CPU depends amongst other things on its instruction set (architecture) (which is the same here), the number of cores, hyperthreading and similar technologies, how well it can pipeline, the size and configuration of its memory caches, and general logic implementation which performs the instructions. Oh, and the clock speed.

    Clearly the mods were not paying attention in the days of the Pentium IV and the Athlon Barton cores. The 1.83 GHz Barton 2500+ kicked the butt of similarly clocked Pentiums and was roughly equivalent to a 2.4 GHz Pentium IV for many applications. (IIRC the P4s were better for video encoding and those sorts of things.)

    For many things (games!) the cache will have more effect than the clock. Every time your CPU has to get something out of memory it has to wait around for hundreds of those cycles which you're getting so excited about. If it has to get something swapped to disk: millions of cycles.

    Processor architectures are still rapidly evolving so be very very careful when comparing speeds.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!